New teachers from rural and remote areas voiced the urgent need for a guarantee of the Gonski school funding at the Beginning Teachers Conference in Coonabarabran on May 25.
For these teachers and their students, the benefits of the Gonski reforms are obvious. The loadings for school location, school size, low socioeconomic status students, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and students with disabilities will mean more individual and specialist support for these students and must create more opportunities for professional support for the teachers.
NSW Department of Education and Communities projections, published in The Australian on May 17, show that schools in remote and very remote areas are set to receive increased funding per student at double and triple the rate of metropolitan schools over the next decade with the implementation of the funding reforms.
These changes are at risk unless other states and territories sign up and the Coalition commits to implementing the reforms should it win government.
Teachers from the Far West, North West and Central West travelled up to five hours to attend the Coonabarabran conference and the enthusiasm they had for their work with students was infectious.
Many teachers raised issues around resources and the difficulties accessing professional learning in rural areas generally but particularly in the remote towns like Bourke, Warialda and Goodooga.
The teachers expressed their appreciation for the opportunity the conference gave them to meet with colleagues from different workplaces and discuss their experiences as new teachers. Sessions on current Federation campaigns and involvement in local associations, accreditation, classroom management, Aboriginal education, working conditions and entitlements, and staffing were well received by participants.
Joan Lemaire is Senior Vice President and Kate Ambrose is Membership and Training Officer.